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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

When you raise your children in Don Pedro and you encourage them to play outside the responsible thing to do is to teach them about snakes, in particular rattle snakes. But since you don’t want your kids to get close enough to a rattle snake to make a definite identification you tell them to stay away from all snakes dead or alive. “No playing with snakes, ever! Got it?” “No poking snakes with a stick, no touching snakes! Got it?!” “What do you do when you see a snake, or hear a rattling sound?”

“I turn around, run into the house, and tell Daddy or Mommy or the Babysitter.”

“Good answer, that is exactly what you do.”

“Do you ever touch or play with snake?”

“No, silly Daddy, you run and tell.”

“Why?”

“Because snakes bite and can hurt you very bad.”

“What else you don’t do when you play outside?”

“I don’t stick my hands where I can’t see and I look where I walk?”

“Why?”

“So snakes won’t bite me.”

“Do you play by the wood pile or in the rocks?”

“No Daddy.”

“Why?”

“Cause snakes like it there.”

 

You have to teach your kids about all kinds of things, like fire, respect, boys/girls, honesty, glue and glitter, honor, being color-blind, brushing their teeth, responsibility, selflessness, generosity, doing chores right, excellence, not quitting, using tools, changing tires, controlling their temper, working hard, cleaning up after your puppy, being a giver not a taker, contributing, being home on time, … But the most important thing we teach our children is what we teach them about God and the things of God. It will affect their entire life, their destiny, and their soul, “Bring them (your children) up in the discipline (training) and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4 (ESV).

In trying to be faithful to that command of God, Susie and I, found the Word of God (the Bible), prayer, and the community of God (church) indispensable.

“What is the most important thing you will ever do?”

“Love God and my neighbor, Dad.”

“You are so right! So very smart! And that is why you are my favorite (all the others are just ugly ducklings, runts, and trolls)!”

 

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

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Take a minute and go to the nearest bath or restroom and look in a mirror and open your mouth and examine that wiggly, moist muscle living behind your teeth. – (Did you do it? Or have you decided to just sit there and read on?) –  In many ways it is stronger than all of the rest of your muscles combined, With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” James 3:9-10 (ESV).

Family is another place where the power to bless or curse reside. In fact there are few things that affect us more deeply and profoundly than the blessings and/or curses of our families. Family can and should be like a sweet slice of heaven, a haven of happiness, but all too often it is like a putrid plate of hell, a hall of horrors. Often it is a mixture of, somewhere between the two, but how much doo-doo baked into a brownie makes it unpalatable?

Everyone reading this p-note is someone’s daughter or son, but not everyone is glad to be someone’s daughter or son. Many reading this are someone’s Mom or Dad and not at all happy how things are working/have worked out. All the members of a family have the power to bless or curse. Children can love and honor their parents and make them glad. Parents can love, bless, and raise the children right. But neither can do it without love, our power to bless diminishes with every choice that is contrary to love.

Both blessings and curses have the power to perpetuate. Love births love, generosity inspires generosity, kindness fuels kindness, hate conceives hate, violence begets violence, injustice cries for revenge, pain likes to bite. But it is our choosing that can both break the chain of blessing or end the cycle of sin and its curses.

It is not difficult to figure out which side God is on. The cross of Christ is about redemption, about reconciliation, and about forgiveness, regarding our individual relationship with God and being part of his family, but it is also about the redemption and restoration of the human condition and relationships. God in Christ is able to break the strongest curse, heal the deepest wounds, loosen the heaviest chains.

The book of Genesis ends with a family that is broken, dysfunctional, painful, fake, full of bad blood, secrets, and rotten history. It was meant to enjoy God’s promises, fulfill God’s purposes, and experience God’s blessing, but they settled for jealousy, betrayal, lies, and superficiality. They were much better at cursing than blessing. They were flushing both their own potential as well as God’s wisdom and help. That family was self-destructing. Except that one of them, Joseph, realized that he had both the power to bless and the power to curse and he chose the former over the latter. He decided to bless where he was cursed. He chose to orient himself on and rely on God who knows how to redeem, restore, reconcile, and forgive. He decided to love. And guess who was on his side helping him? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV).

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

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“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” Proverbs 13:22a (NASB)

We are going to leave something to our kids, it is not a matter of if but of what. Leaving them something good and worthwhile requires we recognize how important that is and the determination to do something about it, that in turn requires the determination to be good ourselves because we usually produce what we are, or as Jesus put it, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him” Matthew 12:35 (NIV). It is tough to hear it that bluntly, isn’t it? So what will your children inherit? Not just financially but culturally, ethically, intellectually, and spiritually? Are we passing an inheritance of blessing, of how to think, how to be, how to act, how to care, and how to worship?

Good doesn’t just happen; you have to work on good. Ordinary, mediocre, messes just happen, but good takes concentrated and sustained effort. You have to want good, practice good; excellence and blessing rarely just happen. You only get an inheritance if someone didn’t spend it all, if someone was smart, if someone saved, if someone cared enough to pass something on. To a good man/woman that’s important, to good parents and grandparents that’s important.

To be good, to do good, to pass good things on you have to know what is good, good has a definition. Good was good before we came along and good will still be good after we are gone. Good is not arbitrary, it is constant, it is eternal, it finds its roots in the reality and truth of God. We, the parents, the grandparents, our children, and grandchildren have the ability to alter the meaning of good (which far too often renders good no good) but ultimately we will be held accountable to God’s definition of good. Thus the wise man, the wise woman, wise parents will be careful to pass on a spiritual inheritance even more than a material inheritance. Our kids are not blessed if they are rich and godless, if they are wealthy and wicked, if they have the “good” life but are immoral, if they have opportunity but don’t perceive it as a means to care about others and to glorify God.

A good and sizeable inheritance enables, it gives future generations a head start, that’s why good men and women work on leaving one to their children and grandchildren. This is why we should care about politics, the national debt, justice, hatred and bigotry regardless which flag it hides behind, violence, education, personal responsibility, wickedness, freedom, education, values, morality, and our responsibility before and accountability to God.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4 (NIV).

“For what does it profit a man (woman, child, son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Mark 8:36 (NASB).

Let’s leave our children and grandchildren an awesome inheritance, one that God would applaud.

To God be all glory. Love you, Pastor Hans

 

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For as long as have had the awesome, God-given, privilege of being a Dad I have wondered about the best things a Dad can do for his kids. My motivation was that I did not want to screw up, hurt, or negatively impact the lives of the children entrusted to Susie and me, instead I wanted to be a source of blessing, a contributor to my children’s success, a source of joy, and an example of wisdom, integrity, faith, and godliness. Thus I have observed, picked the brains of Dad’s I admired, read books, contemplated, attended seminars, and studied the God’s word (the Bible). Here are a few things I have learned:

Don’t

  • Be stupid. Stupid is never funny, kid’s pay a high price for parental stupidity.
  • Be absent. You can never be a good Dad if you don’t show up.
  • Be drunk, high, or addicted, unless you want to curse your children.
  • Be violent or abusive. A strong and good man does not hurt or abuse his children.
  • Be a jerk, you’ll make your children angry.
  • Think that giving your kids stuff will make anything.
  • Live your dreams through your kids.
  • Chase the American dream, have a kingdom of God dreams instead.
  • Break your word or lie. Let your children be able to trust what you say.
  • Sin, sin is always corrosive and destructive. And if you sin do don’t cover it up but quick to repent.

Do

  • Get involved in your children’s lives, you they will be the richer for it.
  • Show your love in as many ways as you can. There is safety in love.
  • Affirm your kids in who they are, help them to be all that God has made them to be.
  • Laugh, have a great sense of humor. If your kids make fun of us in front of us they’re not afraid of us. This will also help in not making mountains out of mole hills.
  • Have a plan, a clear picture of what you want your kids to be like. Great parents don’t leave things up to chance.
  • Have standards when it comes to conduct, character, courage, commitment, chores, community, charity, quality (working hard and doing things right), compromise, and compassion. Make sure you model them or it will be a tough sell.
  • Love their Mom, openly, constantly, and beautifully. It sets a tone. It exposes your kids to something rare and precious, it will also undermine their efforts to divide and conquer.
  • Earn and require respect. Respecting Mom, siblings, other people (even those who you don’t like or disagree with) is not an option.
  • Make room for expressing anger, but never let anger be expressed in sinful ways. This means you have to be really good at it yourself.
  • Apologize when you messed up. Eat crow when you need to. Model how to take responsibility and not make excuses.
  • Encourage your kids to dream, to try things, to not be afraid of failure.
  • Use your mouth to bless your kids, to sow good things into their hearts and minds, to cheer, to encourage, to be kind, to build up, to be straight forward, to set a beautiful tone in your home and your relationship with them.
  • Love all the things God loves: Jesus Christ, people, the church, the Bible, generosity, justice, compassion, creation, doing good, sinners being found, worship, praise, blessing others.
  • Pray yourself, as a family, with their Mom, with others. Pray constantly, pray bold, pray with your mind and heart engaged. Ask for big and important things regarding your children and family. Pray beyond everything to merely be smooth and effortless in your children’s lives.
  • Strive to be consistent in your conduct, discipline, and behavior.
  • Shoot for being the godliest Dad you could possibly be, for your kid’s to be able to call you a man of God.

 

Ancient King David is near the end of his life. He is busy organizing everything so his son Solomon is set up for success, and then David prays, “Give my son Solomon the wholehearted desire to obey all your commands, laws, and decrees, and to do everything necessary to build this Temple, for which I have made these preparations” 1 Chronicles 29:19 (NLT).

To God be all glory. Happy Fathers’ Day, Pastor Hans

 

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“ … whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV).

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)

I remember landing for the first time at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) way back when there were no scanners and security lines. I was sitting by a window and all I could see was water and no land until what seems like the very last moment. I was very relieved when the wheels of the plane touched solid ground; although I am sure to the flight crew it was just another routine landing.

A couple of weeks ago Susie and I were coming home from a long trip to Tanzania and Germany. Three days before our plane landed flight 214 of Asiana Airlines crashed in a routine attempt to land at SFO. As our Delta flight made its approach and landed we could see on the left beneath us the debris field and burned out hull of Asiana’s Boing 777. I was relieved our plane landed in one piece and I am fairly certain most people aboard felt the same way.

If you want to mess with the routine of life have kids, adopt a child, or take in a foster child. It is a great paradox that although children love and need routine they are also so very good at messing with it, messing it up.

I suggest to you that raising children into healthy, good, and God-loving adults is more difficult than flying and landing a plane. To me the scary thing is that the runway of life is littered with debris of crashed lives, lined with burned out hulls.

I am not an aviator (although I would love to be able to fly) but I know the pilots of the plane bringing us home had to file a flight plan, inspect the plane and go through a pre-flight checklist, follow the directions of the tower and air traffic controllers, monitor and adjust throughout the flight, and go through a post flight routine. Pilots follow the routine because they know it helps them with the challenges, the surprises, the unexpected, and the occasional sheer terror of flying. The goal is to take off, accomplish the purpose of the flight, and safely land.

As a parent, did you ever have a hard time spotting the runway, knew you were in over your head, were terrified of crashing, or felt like you were running a school of kamikaze pilots? Here is the core of what has helped Susie and me:

  • We have tried to use God’s manual, the Bible, to shape us personally and to instruct us on parenting.
  • We have tried to stay connected with the control tower and life/parent traffic control through a routine of consistent, daily prayer.
  • We have tried to stick with a flight plan for our children. We did not want to leave important things such as character building, values, faith, and good and godly habits up to chance.
  • We have tried to be consistent, practice what we preach and expect, and stick with daily and weekly (e.g. church) routines so we and our children would be prepared for the unexpected throughout the flight.
  • We tried to remember that we are co-pilots, to submit ourselves to Jesus Christ as the leader of our personal lives, our children, and our family.
  • Our goal has been to get them off our plane, to fly their own, and fly it well, to the glory of God.

To God be all glory, love you, Pastor Hans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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